Friday, May 09, 2008

Surf's up for stem cell scientists; San Diego to spend $40 million in faculty recruitment

In an article titled State stem cell agency awards $271 million in grants, Terri Somers discusses an award by CIRM of $271 million in grants to 12 institutes. She particularly emphasizes a $43 million grant to the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine for the construction of a building in Torrey Pines, in the San Diego area.

As one progresses through the article, the amount of money at the San Diego facility goes up:

the proposed $115 million building to be built near the Torrey Pines Gliderport ...

The San Diego consortium, and the 11 other grant recipients, have committed to invest a total of $560 million from charitable donations and their internal reserves to construct the facilities ...

The San Diego consortium expects it needs to raise at least $72 million tocomplete funding for the center. And it expects to spend $40 million in faculty recruitment and other costs, bringing the total for the new San Diego Center for Regenerative Medicine to $155 million. ...

One notes that the amount of the grant from CIRM itself ($43 million) is of comparable magnitude to the amount of money being spent for "faculty recruitment" ($40 million).

The "deliverables" are placed in a very conditional form:

Because of the ability of stem cells to evolve into the more than 200 types of cells in the body, the field is believed to hold the promiseof curing diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. ...

“This will go a long way toward medical research that could save lives and improve them for people with chronic diseases,”

At least one part of the article was honest:

The center will be a highly visible symbol of the region's commitment to stem cell research, and a place where the taxpayers footing the bill can see what progress their money has fueled ...

Somers could have added that the buildings probably will be the only visible sign of "where the taxpayer money went."

The comments to the Somers' article were highly partisan, yet did not even get into all the issues with how Proposition 71 is going to fail. Seeing how Proposition 71 is turning into an employment cushion for a small sector of science, which sector is likely not to deliver much in ten years, one is glad to be in New Jersey, where voters wised up to this scam.


One interesting tidbit in the californiastemcellreport was that the San Diego consortium folks are taking out a loan:

While [Louie] Coffman is out beating the bushes for cash, he said the consortium plans to seek a loan. The facility includes extra lab space that it could rent to pay off debt.

Can someone say "Ponzi"?


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